One clue to deception is how well the story is balanced.
A truthful story about what happened has a beginning, during, and after ratio of 25%, 50%, 25%. There will be a set-up or background, the core or main part of what happened, and then the ending of the story will generally be about the same length as the beginning. It is in balance.
A deceptive story will be off balance or unevenly weighted. If someone isn’t being truthful about what took place the beginning, during, and after ratio will be closer to 35%, 50% 15%. It will have more lead-in to set it up and then a quicker ending to get off that subject.
Remember the scene in the movie, The Proposal when Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynold’s characters (Margaret and Andrew) were telling the engagement story to the family? If you saw the movie you also know that it was a deceptive story.
The set-up and all the details leading up to the actual proposal were extensive and elaborate. Then Andrew jumped in and said, “I asked her to marry me and she said ‘Yup.’ The end.” He was quick to get off the story. Take a look at the dialogue:
The Proposal movie (Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds) Engagement Scene
- Andrew: [referring to the story about how he proposed to Margaret] You know what? Actually, Margaret loves telling this story, so I’m just gonna let her go ahead and do that. We should just sit and rapture.
- Margaret: Wow, okay… wow, where to begin… the story… Well, um, wow… Okay, well, um, Andrew and I… Andrew and I were about to celebrate our first anniversary together and I knew that he’d been itching to ask me to marry him and he was scared, like a little tiny bird. So, I started leaving him little hints here and there because I knew he wouldn’t have the guts to ask…
- Andrew: That’s not exactly how it happened.
- Margaret: No?
- Andrew: No, no, I mean I picked up on all of her little hints… this woman is about as subtle as a gun. Yeah, no, what I was worried about was that she might find this little box…
- Margaret: Oh, the decoupage box that he made, where he’d taken the time to cut out twenty little pictures of himself, just pasted all over the box. So beautiful! I opened that beautiful little decoupage and out fluttered these tiny little hand-cut heart confettis and once they cleared, I looked down and I saw the most beautiful, big…
- Andrew: …fat nothing! No ring.
- Grandma Annie: No ring?
- Grace: What?
- Andrew: No, but inside that box, underneath all that crap, a handwritten note with the address to a hotel, date and time. Real Humphrey Bogart type stuff. Masculine. Naturally, Margaret, she thought…
- Margaret: I thought he was seeing someone else… so it was a terrible time for me, but I went to that hotel anyway, I went there and I pounded on the door. But the door was already unlocked. As I swung open that door, there he was…
- Andrew: Standing.
- Margaret: Kneeling.
- Andrew: Like a man.
- Margaret: On a bed of rosebuds, in a tuxedo. Your son. Your son… and he was choking back soft, soft sobs. And when he held back the tears and finally caught his breath, he said to me…
- Andrew: ‘Margaret, will you marry me?’ and she said ‘yep’, the end!
The next time someone is recounting what happened, listen for the 25-50-25% ratio. Clearly there’s a little wiggle room in those percentages. The key is that it should be balanced with the beginning and ending of similar length.
If the story tends to end abruptly, there’s a strong possibility deception is involved.
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As Managing Director of Concealed Statements I work with men and women who want to increase their deception awareness to avoid wasting time or money and avoid making poor decisions based on inaccurate information.